Barbara Green has been a volunteer for Americans for Peace Now for many years. She lives in Washington, DC.
If we look to the Torah for lessons in how we are to live our lives today, we're hard-pressed to find it in Vayeitze. Rather this is a series of lessons in duplicity, trickery, bad faith between kinsmen, and ultimately the creation of a physical boundary between them which neither is ever again to cross. Laban tricks Jacob, Rachel tricks Laban, Jacob tricks Laban. In the end the 'heroes-heroines," our ancestors, narrowly escape with their lives and flocks intact.
Does this ancient tale resonate with us today? Are we at the high point (or perhaps low point) in tortured relations between Palestinians and Jewish Israelis? Perhaps the lesson for us is that when two groups have no faith in each other, have for decades lied and tricked each other and committed violence against each other, accommodation cannot be achieved and separation is the only reasonable solution. Jacob and Laban (Genesis 31:51-53) agree that they cannot stay in the same place, so they set up a stone-marker, and agree on it as a boundary line. “Behold this matzeva and behold this pillar, that I have set between me and you, let the stone-marker be witness and let the pillar be witness that I will not pass over this stone-marker to you and you will not pass over the stone-marker to me for evil ..."
In Israel/Palestine today, many don't accept this inevitable conclusion. They speak loosely of "managing the conflict," or a "one-state solution." The current wave of violence -- which some see as the beginning of the Third Intifada -- has put the lie to those notions. The conflict can never be managed; it must be resolved. Jacob’s notion of separation, marked by a clearly defined boundary, is the only feasible solution.
There are several dream sequences as well as mystical experiences in this parsha. At APN we don't deal in dreams – we’re hard-headed realists -- and we need your support to take the hard but necessary next steps. Establishing a Palestinian state will be very hard; delineating borders is no less demanding a task. But after nearly 50 years of occupation, it must be done -- and quickly.
The poet Delmore Schwartz called one of his greatest short stories, "In Dreams Begin Responsibility." If we can dream of the end to this current nightmare, then we have a duty to act on that dream.